By Nisha Rikhi
In the autumn of last year, I undertook some research to apply for vacation schemes at law firms.
My first step was to find law firms in the south-east of the country, which I would have been able to commute to easily, should lockdown have been lifted. After that, I browsed the websites of all the firms to find out what areas of law they covered and the kind of work that they did. This narrowed my list down to approximately six firms to which I decided I would apply.
I then went through to the application stage. I copied the questions onto a blank Microsoft Word document and proceeded to draft answers to each question, researching the firm in question as I set about answering their suite of questions. For example, when I was asked a question about why I was interested in commercial law, I researched the awards that the firm had won and the examples of commercial work that they did i.e., drafting partnership and joint venture agreements. I then related my research back to my own experience working for my parents’ business and the commercial awareness that I had developed as a result of this work experience.
Relating my research to my work history and academic studies formed the backbone of my researching strategy. As I was researching companies and drafting answers to application questions, I was constantly looking for ways to highlight my transferable skills and explain why I was interested in the firm and the other interests I had outside the law. One application question stumped me. It asked me to describe my hobbies, interests and extra-curricular activities. Focusing on transferable skills was critical to answering this question. This is because I focused on my volunteering work to answer the question by showcasing the transferable skills, such as communication and teamworking skills, that the company was looking for. You must keep the characteristics and skills that the companies you wish to are seeking at the forefront of your mind when you are researching the firms. This is because you are striving to demonstrate in your applications that you are an ideal candidate for the firm, with the qualities and skills that they are actively seeking.
The best advice that I can give to any readers who may be about to apply for vacation schemes, internships, jobs or work experience programmes is to keep a list of questions from past applications. This will aid you in researching companies as you will have a better understanding of what firms are generally looking for, and it will help you prepare for interviews if you are invited to them.